[VOID] How I Woke Up With Blue Hair

Rohit Khare (rohit@bordeaux.ICS.uci.edu)
Tue, 10 Mar 1998 01:29:26 -0800

So around 9:30 AM this morning, I was sprawled across the
brass-and-brown sleeping bag that is my bed peacefully enough when the
cellphone cried out to its mother on behalf of the copyeditors at IEEE
Internet Computing. Before they could exhibit their first dangling
participle, I greeted them with a colorful string of curses as I
rolled over and saw my pillowcase was covered in bright blue powder.
Then I realized it was the same effect that made CobraBoy jump
yesterday afternoon when he saw my left ear coated in blood red dust.
And the realtor, who was trembling lest any of it sully her client's
Berber rugs at the open house.

During the picnic yesterday, a surprise bout of colorplay had broken
out a week early. Holi, a Hindu religious festival, is traditionally
celebrated during the Ides of March with household and neighborhood
fights with colored powder, liquids, and paints. And new clothes :-)


As you recall, I made it back home to Irvine around 6 AM after
Saturday night's shenanigans. The alarm clock went off around 11, when
I logged in and got the good news that my next junket's been approved:
XML'98 in Seattle, March 24-28. I'm delivering a DevDay talk I
prepared with Jim Whitehead on the use of XML in WebDAV: anyone
volunteering crash space for Friday and Saturday nights in Seattle?
(Adam may also be there that weekend, if he makes the final cut for
the Microsoft dissertation fellowship; the week after is IETF/LA,
which reminds me 1) I need to do that UPGRADE/TLS draft with Roy's
help, and 2) I should get off my duff about arranging a big ol'
FoRKcon. I wonder what it costs to rent out a room at the House of
Blues? Ernie, can you find an excuse to come down 3/30-4/3 sometime?)

A few words to Miss B, lucky winner of those McLachlan tickets, and I
was off. To what, I wasn't quite sure, but it was such a perfectly
sunny and clear day I couldn't harbor doubts. Otherwise I'd have to be
back at my desk doing homework (which STILL, at the time of this
writing, hasn't been done, due to ever more social correspondence
piling up today. I should update my scoreboard to read 14/17 -- you do
the math! :-)

Eventually, I found Cerritos Regional Park, and it wasn't too hard to
pick out the brown picnic crowd. It turned out to be a huge affair,
perhaps a hundred different people. I'm still having a hard time
believing these numbers, but, hey, I'm told that two thirds of
Cerritos High School across the street is Indian, too. Chips, Coke,
and Bhangra: one local Indipop DJ, Jassi had his folio of 200-odd
dance, remix, and filmi CDs, which just floored me (Dhamaka
Productions: (714) 903 9241).

This was a UCI + CSULB joint, but I recognized a few faces from both
campuses from Friday night. Amazing what formalwear will do, as I'd
learned at Toi's this weekend. Today was definitely from the hood:
hip-hop fashion was the call of the day. 'cept the girls had
screw-close navel rings to hide them from their parents :-)

The whole Indian-teenager bit is still a little odd to swallow for me,
as you can tell. It's kind of like seeing these kindergarten classes
wired to the Web: In *my* day, dammit, we didn't have no freakin' GUIs
*or* playmates. I'm so out of touch, it's damned hard to keep all
these Indian names straight: I can hardly recall the Rajivs, Rajeshs,
Rahuls, and Rohits, to say nothing of Ritu, Sangeeta, Manekha, Mona,
Bhavika, Shanti, Anjula, or the rest. (In India, *all* female names
seem to end in a vowel; can't use that to filter out Playboy Playmates
like Anglo names...)

That classical Indian dish, pepperoni pizza, soon arrived in copious
quantities, and I met some more of the 'elderfolk'. A goodly number of
nonstudents were there, too. One fellow, I had mistakenly thought was
a chaperone at the dance Friday: turned out to be a UCI postdoc; he
hadn't heard of the Indian-born grad student's separate club at
http://www.ags.uci.edu/~indians . He brought a friend who worked at
the American Film Institute doing commercial production and direction.
A mechanical engineer from Boston University, back in the family
hometown. Another fellow, a UCSD alum, worked up North for IBM's
e-business solutions group (400 pp today; will be *tripling* this
year!) -- we chatted in bits throughout the afternoon, and I'm hoping
he'll show up on FoRK soon. Hint: Munchkins are the geek-seduction
equivalent of all those phony secret-pheronomes-turn-women-on ads :-)

Sometimes, it's the simple pleasures in life. The gals (and the
leadership of both campuses' Indian clubs was entirely female, like
any decent student organization :-) organized a egg-tossing contest;
an orange-eating contest (after chin-to-chin coed orange passing was
deemed a wee bit too racy :-), and, honest to goodness, Red-Rover, the
rush-a-human-chain contest.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ryed, a beefy, breezy ex-Army grunt my
age. He grew up down here, too, but in a tougher neighborhood not the
kind of doctor-lawyer-hotelier-professor set. Wiser for his years up
in Washington state, that definitely comes across. Studying HVAC for
now, but aiming at saving up for an EECAD position; his brother's
doing an MS in computers at UCI; I'm hoping to hear back. Said he met
three desis in three years in the Army; it's a majority white and
black organization. There's certainly a lot of social prejudices
piling onto the underrepresentation. Before him, I only knew of one
Annapolis midshipman personally and heard of an Air Force Academy
grad. I believe the highest ranking Indian in the armed forces is a
surgeon in the Uniformed Services School of the Health Sciences --
even in the Army, doctor is the way to go... sigh. We had some fun
reminiscing about pencil-and-paper drafting and hard-ass vo-tech
instructors back in the day before CAD systems. I didn't go as far as
he did in drawing, but I have to say that there's something essential
to learning the old way, where orthogonal views are calculated by hand
and perfectionism is a craft, not an automatic blessing.

Hmm. I'm not doing this picnic much justice. I guess I'd have to say
it was a surprisingly normal event: clusters of posers and toughs from
various neighborhoods and old high-school affiliations overlaid with a
few collegiate loyalties. Almost everyone was from here, not there --
we're talking about Indian-OC'ers, not just Indian-Americans. 'cept
instead of making out like Kung-fu parody fighters going "heee-yah!",
they were trying "kaaama-sutra!" :-)

Eventually, near the end, a colorfight broke out: blues and yellows
and greens and reds and running, screaming teenagers all over -- 1% of
the fun of a real Holi in India, but I've never seen one, so I was
mighty amused. New shirt or no.

(I could chalk it up to a conspiracy of religious oppression: because
of the Christian-dominated school calendar, most of our pilgrimages to
India are rescheduled to Christmas, after the Festival of Lights
(Diwali) and to Memorial Day, after the Festival of Colors (Holi).
Spring Break *never* manages to line up well with that, though it has
nearly covered Easter in some cities :-)

Out in the parking lot, as I tried to pat myself down with the water
and towels in the trunk (trust me: I keep *full* contingency rations
in the Bonneville...), I chatted with the homies flashin their fast
cars. The tricked-out Mustangs, lowered Civics, the bad-ass attitudes
about "you egg my car, I'm gettin' out the tire irons, motherfucker!"
-- just brown skin, not black or tan.

Anyway, the mild-seeming epilogue was dinner and drinks and drinks and
drinks with CobraBoy at the little church (La Capilla, corner of Adams
and Beach Blvd in HB. Recommended).

Rohit 'not-Roy' Khare